Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Paws Off

Paws off MY Switcher

Dog Blog Post #432:

Today's Daily Shoot assignment?

Make a photograph of a plastic object that you’ve used today.

My first idea was...


... but while I thought Zachary was looking pretty adorable, the shot seemed to be lacking... something.

Some hours later, I tried again with the shot way up top, and the ones below...

Typical Male

Typical Male

Typical Male

What is it about males and channel switchers?

The new Scavenger Challenge list is up - so here's a sneak peak at what some of the non-dog pictures will entail for this month:

1) Exaggerate length/height of a subject with Point of View. Keep the foreground in focus!
2) How good is your balance? Make a precarious stack of objects and shoot before they fall.
3) True confessions time! What did you borrow and fail to return? Tell the story.
4) Paw around for a non-human hand or foot. Get close in by shooting a macro or zoom.
5) Show us the end of a day with a sunset or some way to relax, etc. Go for mood!
6) Show some portion of the moon at any phase using the best zoom factor you can manage.
7) Present a man-made item more than 50 years old in a setting appropriate to its use or era.
8) A plain object. A uniformly textured background. Make a photo only using those two items.
9) Have you lost your marbles? One or many, prove you have at least one!
10) Add a frame to any new photo (your choice of subject) using post-processing tools.
11) Live plants are found in most homes and many offices. No dead or plastic specimens!
12) "Snail mail" is almost a thing of the past. Do you have any old correspondence?
13) Photograph a landmark which typifies your area (i.e., structure or terrain).
14) Find a display of produce at home, on a store shelf or at a fair and make it look good.
15) This one's particularly for the guys! Get creative and make a cool photo of a car or truck.
16) Photograph a musical instrument (yours or a friend's). No CD or MP3 players or the like.
17) Find a naturally occurring spiral, i.e., fern fiddlehead, snail shell, etc.
18) Talk a friend into posing for you. Shoot in black-and-white, please. Bonus for portrait.
19) Fine or massive, photograph a chain in such a way to give the viewer a sense of its size.
20) Whether it's chocolates, movies or bubble bath, show us your favorite indulgence.
21) No matter what our ages, we likely have some kids' toys or models around. No yard toys.
22) Find a cow. It doesn't have to be real, but it must be three-dimensional. No pictures!
23) What do you consider your greatest achievement? Represent it in a photograph.
24) The seasons are turning. Photograph something demonstrating the change.
25) Education Center: Forced perspective creates an optical illusion, misrepresenting the subject's size relative to other objects in the scene. Be sure to check out the examples here before you get started, and then have FUN with this prompt! It's easier than it sounds.

(This is how I track them - click to see much larger)

And finally, a mosaic of August...

Scavenge Challenge August 2011

1. Abandoned Home, 2. Winding Cords, 3. Slogan, 4. State Quarters, 5. Scooter
6. Metal Box, 7. Shoo Fly, 8. Lucky Horseshoe, 9. Mirror Mirror, 10. Coffee Cup Handle
11. Tilted, 12. Vanishing Point, 13. Gamer Hands, 14. Don't Shred (on) Me, 15. Stinky Lacrosse Gear
16. Not Me, 17. Suburban Night Life, 18. Fire, 19. Shells, 20. (Barely) Legal Lacrosse Stick
21. Empty, 22. Pitch, 23. Five, 24. Eye Level, 25. Intentionally Blurry?

... created using Mosaic Maker. I probably should have used white lines instead of black - oh well, live and learn. :)

© 2011 BZ Training - All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Monday, August 29, 2011



Dog Blog Post #430: This is one of those oh-so-easy Daily Shoot assignments that I personally find oh-so-hard...

Make a photograph with an emphasis on the sky today.

The problem? It is nearly impossible to look up and not see trees, big shady umbrellas (we have several) or the house. Combine that with dogs only a few feet high, and it's a recipe for disappointment.

My best first effort is below...


... taken around lunch time. I had to use "straighten" to make the shot crooked enough to crop off the umbrella (to the left) and still leave enough sky to qualify. While there's nothing particularly wrong with shot (other than Henry being a bit too contrasty) there isn't much of anything wonderful about it either.

A few hours later, after the sun had fled to the other side of the house, it dawned on me to try using a mirror to capture dog and sky. Despite the lack of blue, I rather liked the effect of sun on the puple-leaved plum tree, and posted it anyway.

Might have to revisit that shot some time at a better hour to see if I can get more true blue sky.

And now for something completely different - yet another stab at a Scavenge Challenge item:

25) "Education Center: In the days before digital cameras and photo processing software, photographers often used fabrics, grids and oils on glass as creative filters to achieve soft or sparkly effects. This month, try one of these ideas! Refer to the examples in the Education Center."

Rose Leaves

Bronze Fennel

... with the first picture being new rose leaves and the second of Bronze Fennel just going to seed, which normally looks like this...

Bronze Fennel

What did I do? I smeared a little (VERY little) butter on the inside of a glass pie pan, and held the lens close while I took the picture.

To my eyes, there was barely enough butter to be visible, and I was worried it wouldn't even show.

Obviously, the camera "saw" things differently.

Editor's Note: Sheltie Times commented on the boys love of the camera (I believe the word was "amazed"). I read somewhere that dogs view the camera as a big unblinking eye, and since staring at a dog is terribly rude, this explains why some dogs dislike cameras.

I don't remember ever having trouble with the boys and cameras, but I started taking pictures when they were wee pups. Any time I'm taking pictures of them I have cookies on me, and with practically every shot a treat is given.

In fact, they react to the shutter as they do my clicker. A click = a treat. Is it any wonder they have grown to not only accept, but demand, attention from that big unblinking eye!

I've also seen a gradual increase, over time, of poses I like. My guess is that they cue off the shutter click (assuming I click when I see something I like) which gains them a treat, and so try to repeat those poses in hopes of winning more cookies.

Some people get uptight, rushed, or nervous taking pictures. Dogs can pick up on this and decide it's all the camera's fault and so want to avoid the situation that makes mommy unhappy.

I know I get that way if a shoot isn't going how I had it pictured in my head. I know it because I see it reflected in Zachary's behavior. When he starts getting "hard to work with", it's a clear sign that the problem is really me. I take a deep breath, give him a big hug (he loves hugs) some "free" cookies just for putting up with mommy, then toss the ball a few times, and try again.

Or not.

Some things just aren't worth it. :)

© 2011 BZ Training - All Rights Reserved

Sunday, August 28, 2011


Henry in a Sunbeam

Dog Blog Post #429: This has to be one of my favorite sorts of Daily Shoot assignments...

Create a photo with a single element, no distractions, & lots of contrast.

... at least when Mother Nature cooperates and throws a cheery sunbeam my way.

Today was just that sort of day.

In fact, today promised to have (and delivered on) way too many sunbeams. There it was, bright and early in the morning (emphasis on bright) when the first sunbeam made it through the trees and crept across the kitchen floor. Realizing I needed close up or risk having roast humans by the end of the day, I was just about to shut the curtains when I remembered today's assignment.

I bolted for the camera, the dogs came running (as they always do when the camera comes out, as camera = cookies) and I dropped Henry into a down in the slender beam.

It was less than the width of his head.

I grabbed his forearms and slid him a little this way and little that way on the hardwood floors (yes, good puppy, have a cookie) and managed to get just about all his face in the beam.

With the treat ramekin on the floor, to the right, just off camera, I banged off a few shots and then tossed some cookies to get him out of the way. Repeat process for Zachary, tossing cookies past Henry every few seconds to keep him away from the camera.

And then we were done. A few dozen shots in just a few minutes, then I slammed the curtains closed.

Zachary in a Sunbeam

Zachary in a Sunbeam

At one point, while I was taking pictures of Henry (who went first, if you recall) I just happened to look over and see Zachary close by, waiting patiently for his turn...


What a good boy!

Note that I doubt I've ever taken a picture of Henry waiting patiently for his turn, as the mild-mannered pup is a huge camera hog, always finding ways to get in the way. I haven't counted to see who is featured more often in Daily Shoot pictures, but it wouldn't surprise me to find out it's Henry, just because he makes sure he's always first and front!

Don't worry, cookie parity is always maintained, even it means that Henry gets paid one cookie per picture while Zachary is paid a dozen!

Editor's Note: I love the soft tones in that shot, perhaps because I was working in the bright light just two feet away. Amazing what a difference direct sunlight can do to how a camera reads a scene. All shots today were shot using the same camera setup (aperture priority) leaving the camera to determine ISO and exposure time. The three "contrasty" shots came in around f/5, 1/400s, ISO 100. The shot above was f/5, 1/60s, and ISO 1400. (I have the camera setup to not go below 1/60s, hence the relatively high ISO.)

© 2011 BZ Training - All Rights Reserved

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Earth Tones

Sleepy Time

Dog Blog Post #428: The Daily Shoot was kind again, with...

Make a photograph composed of earth tones today. Use contrast and composition to provide visual excitement.

... and since the boys are already Earth Tones, this was pretty much a gimme, with the slight wrinkle that they spent the day at the "day spa", and there was no way I was going to go outside and pose the them in the dirt.


So up onto the earth toned couch they went...

Sleepy Time

I picked the picture up top for the Daily Shoot, and the second for Our Daily Challenge, which had the theme of "Set".

As in, "a fairly matched set of Sleepy Golden Retrievers."

The observant amongst you will note I had previously stated "up onto the the earth toned couch they went" and surmise that these pictures were staged.

And they were.

It's amazing what you can get with thoughtful placement of your treat container. In this case, it was sitting on the floor about a foot away from the sofa. It's a rather amusing to see Henry's head and paw creep lower and lower as the shots progressed!

It wasn't until much later, after pictures uploaded and tweeted, that I paused to ponder the irony of "visual excitement" being represented by an apparently sleeping dog.

Oh well, you know what they say, "let sleeping dogs lie." :)

Here's a few spare Scavenge Challenge shots for:

25) Education Center: In the days before digital cameras and photo processing software, photographers often used fabrics, grids and oils on glass as creative filters to achieve soft or sparkly effects. This month, try one of these ideas! Refer to the examples in the Education Center.

Crape Myrtle

Crape Myrtle


All three used a piece of Saran Wrap (plastic wrap) held over the lens. While I'm not wild about blurry pictures, I think the linearized bokeh in the top picture is rather cool. If you click on the shots (to bring up flickr) and then click on the picture there you'll see it on a black background in lightbox, where the effect is much more apparent.

Editor's Note: To put Kolchak Puggle's mind at ease, the bottle of cognac in yesterday's Terrible Top Hat post was merely a prop. No goldens got hammered.:)

And, Wendy, I think you're right. They DO need bow ties. White collars (the sort you find on a shirt) would also be nice.

Perhaps something like I saw at Modern Tails after a google search (Nope, never done any business with them. They just happened to have a clearly photographed product.)

What do you think? Would the boys looking smashing?

© 2011 BZ Training - All Rights Reserved

Friday, August 26, 2011

Terrible Top Hat

Old Timey Feeling

Dog Blog Post #427: Frantic Friday strikes again, but the Daily Shoot took pity on us with:

Friday What's a photograph you've wanted to make for a while but haven't for some reason? Make it today.

Well, as anyone who stops by here somewhat regularly knows, we've been working on "Hats", starting way back on July 11 with the Top Hat post, where I noted that:

"There was no way, no how, that the Terrible Top Hat was going to get anywhere the Precious Puppy's Head"

Well, today was the day for Henry's final exam.

Do you think he passed?

Top Hat Dogs

Boys Night Out

Dapper Dog

Dapper Dog

Editor's Note: The bottle shots were for Our Daily Challenge's "Bottle/s" challenge. It was clearly used as just a prop, as Henry is way too young to be drinking. :)

The observant might note that there are no strings on these hats. They remain perched on puppy heads due to gravity alone.

© 2011 BZ Training - All Rights Reserved

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Something Different


Dog Blog Post #426: "There is nothing new under the sun" -- Ecclesiastes

That said, the Daily Shoot seemed to want us to work miracles with:

Make a photograph with a different point of view than you normally would consider.

Now, as of this morning I had uploaded 217 pictures, for 217 (almost) consecutive Daily Shoots.

(I ended up missing two when the hard disk died, and plugging those holes remains on my (rather long) list of things to do.)

Two Hundred and Seventeen.

And all have at least one dog in them.

There are playing dogs and posing dogs and running dogs and funning dogs. There are right side up and upside down dogs. Dogs with toys. Dogs with food. Dogs reading and recycling, playing chess and checkers, and mousing on the computer. Pictures of dogs wearing glasses, clothes, scarves, and hats.

(LOTS of pictures of dogs wearing hats)

Dogs with cash, mirrors, liquor, bowling balls, cameras, shoes as well as socks... etc. etc. etc.


And to that, you can add "picture of dog playing tug."

For looking through my 217 uploaded shots (you can do that from the photographers page) I noticed a plethora of Zachary's obsession (the Lacrosse Ball) and nary a hint of Henry's passion...


I must admit, having now rectified the situation, it's a whole lot easier to take a picture of a dog running back to you with a Lacrosse Ball than a selfie of your own arm/hand holding a tug toy with a tug obsessed dog going to town at the other end! I was sure that they were all going to be blurry. The camera is fairly heavy, the lens with hood awkwardly long, the distance between the camera and Henry unnervingly short.

I guess the moral is to give that "impossible to get" shot a try. It just might come out!

© 2011 BZ Training - All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, August 24, 2011



Dog Blog Post #425: Today's Daily Shoot assignment...

Wednesday: Make a photograph featuring parallel lines today.

... was surprisingly hard. Not that it's hard to find parallel lines. They are everywhere, and I took several flavors of them. But for some unknown reason, my pictures came out... well... how does one put it delicately.

Less than satisfactory?

Ok fine. They were crap.

They were dull in concept and tone, managed to be both over -and- under exposed, and were generally dismal to look at.

I pushed sliders and pushed sliders and pushed sliders and absolutely nothing I did managed to make them come alive.

So I gave up, turned off my "thinking" brain, and gave in to my more creative side.

They certainly aren't dull in tone anymore!


And here's a spare Scavenge Challenge shot...

"23) Five points, pieces, petals, parts, etc. Be creative! Don't simply photograph the number."


Editor's Note: Glad folks enjoyed yesterday's Squeezably Soft post. I was rather surprised Henry let me put the roll on his head, and really surprised he left it there for at least a minute while I took several shots, and then came back and took it off.

Guess all that work with hats has paid off.

What a good puppy!

I really do need to think of a new photographable challenge. Feet on something perhaps? Holding something? (Ugh - I've failed so many times with that last one.) Hmmm....

© 2011 BZ Training - All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Squeezably Soft

Squeezably Soft

Squeezably Soft

ARG! I need to stop believing Linky when he says there's an error, try again.

(Hangs head in shame)

© 2011 BZ Training - All Rights Reserved

Monday, August 22, 2011


Cash for Cookies
Cash for Cookies

Dog Blog Post #423: As you might have gathered from the title, the Daily Shoot assignment for today was...

Make a photograph that features the color green today.

... which I freely admit is a heck of a lot easier to manage than the dreaded color-that-shall-not-be-named-but-starts-with-"O"-and-rhymes-with-nothing.

This was a "kitchen" shot, which are kinda like "set shots" only I don't have to set up or take down anything - a boon when I'm in a hurry.

The down side is that the lighting is generally low and purely incandescent (read: yellow) and the floors and background cabinets are all made from wood (read: yet more yellowish tones.)

Today, the pluses outweighed the minuses, and into the kitchen we went. The idea to shoot money as my green came to me quite early, while I was paying for my morning Starbucks. It took the rest of the morning (or perhaps the caffeine in my Vente cup) to decide the setup that was going to go with it.

I was quite pleased with the boys, who settled down facing each other without issue (a harder pose for them) and didn't mess with either the cookies or the cash. :)

And yes, as someone always asks, the boys split the cookies when I was done!

Mirror Mirror - EXPLOREDEditor's Note: Back on the Mirror Mirror... post, Greyhounds CAN Sit asked why the white fleece (visible in the mirror) looked so blue. The (was short but grew) answer is that I had two kinds of lighting. One was natural light coming in the large north facing picture window to the right. The other from a pair of incandescent sources - one straight above and the other from a floor lamp, also to the right.

Given the positions of Henry and mirror, I was left with either having a white background in the mirror and a sickly yellow dog, or a blue background in the mirror and a more naturally colored dog.

I chose the latter. :)

If you scroll down that post to the other shot Henry (facing left) you'll see the color is slightly better. This is because in the directions he and the mirror were facing, and the subsequent placement of the camera, the window light was mostly overwhelmed by the incandescent sources, which the camera accurately correct for. It's also a bit darker, as the lamps don't do nearly as good a job as the window when it comes to making light.

Today's shot (above) was also a bit yellow, but as the light was nearly all incandescent the camera did a pretty good job on its own to start with. The remaining yellow cast was easy to correct in Aperture as the placement was white and could be used to set the white balance.

Is it winter yet?

Scavenge Challenge...

17) Go outside after dark to photograph artificial lights. No moon shots or star trails!

Suburban Night Life

... with description:

I think every suburban home in my area has at least one solar powered garden light somewhere on their property, and I'm not sure I've ever seen the same kind twice. From utilitarian stakes to art deco step sconces to craftsman flowers to Golden Retrievers holding rustic lanterns.

I'll give you three guesses which one of the above decorates my suburban home. :)

Are those things as popular elsewhere as they are here????

This is actually my last shot to complete the month, but I think there are still some shots I've yet to post here (for those keeping score at home.)

© 2011 BZ Training - All Rights Reserved

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Sense of Wonder

Dog Blog Post #422: Was barely home today, and it probably shows in both my response to today's Daily Shoot assignment of...

Sunday: Make a photo of something that reminds you of that sense of childhood wonder.

... as well the brevity of this post.

The End.

Ok... maybe not that brief. I'll throw in the description I put in flickr, in hopes it makes things clearer...

As with people, every dog is different. While Zachary's practically a work-a-holic, Henry (above) seems to be going through life with the bright, questioning eyes of child, finding joy where ever he looks.

Now it's The End.

Ok... maybe just one more thing...

Something Wagging This Way Comes asked how the dogs responded to their reflection in yesterday's Mirror Mirror... shot.

This short answer is, I don't know. They sniffed at the mirror, like they would anything else I put in front of them, and after they seemed no more interested in it than in any other non-edible, non-toy prop.

While I'd love to say that Henry contemplated deep thoughts as he peered at his reflection, I kinda don't think so. He was looking where he was looking because of where I placed the cookies.

That doesn't mean the dogs don't look in mirrors or recognize reflections. The mirrored closet doors in our bedroom cover nearly the length of the room, and I have on numerous occasions seen Zachary intentionally look at those mirrors in order to see "around the corner" into the bathroom if someone is in there.

I think I've even seen Henry watching me pet him, if we're sitting on the bed, but I'm less sure of that since he could just be facing that direction and looking at nothing in particular.

I'd love to hear if anyone has had any luck with dogs and mirrors, though! :)

Coming to the end of the Scavenge Challenge shots for the month of August we have...

18) Be careful when you play with fire, and don't allow "hot spots" in your image.


© 2011 BZ Training - All Rights Reserved

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Mirror Mirror...

Mirror Mirror

Dog Blog Post #421: Don't you just love it when you can take care of two things with the same task? Today's Daily Shoot was...

Saturday: Play with reflections in a photograph today.

... which just so happens to line up with Scavenge Challenge (SC) item...

9) Using a mirror, photograph any subject and its reflection. Black and white, please.

Woo Hoo!

I haven't tried getting a mirror picture with the boys before, so I admit to being quite curious what would happen.

This was "Set" shot - with the ex-pen used to hold up the backboard, which was draped in white fleece (since I wanted to end up B&W) with black fabric on the ground.

As usual, when I'm trying something totally new, I started with Zachary. At this point it is more out of habit than necessity, as each dog brings both plusses and minuses to the shoot.

Mirror Mirror
This version went to Scavenge Challenge, the other to Daily Shoot.

Zachary is more reliable with this stay, because Zachary is less bothered by whatever I'm going to be doing. Henry is still a puppy inside, and New Things must be investigated, making stays a bit harder for him at first.

On the down side, Zachary likes to be working, and Doing Nothing has always been his weakest skill.

Today, since the mirror was totally new to the boys and I wasn't even sure how I was going to shoot it, I went with "experience" and let Zachary in.

Poor Zachary, had to put up with me sliding him forward, backward, position his paws in various ways, facing the window with mirror darker vs. back to the window with face in shadow but mirror well lit,  moving my hand/treat around to get expression/head angle, trying out timer on tripod vs. handheld with treat jar, and shifting the camera about constantly to try to find something that would look good in "summer lighting" (ie: the dark).

Mirror Mirror

Sadly, while I learned much, I never did get a great picture of him, but by the time I switched to Henry I knew exactly what I wanted and banged out quite a few. My favorites are above, although the one below of Zachary has a soft spot in my heart just because he tried so hard to please me. :)

Test Subject
"Like this?"
For the curious, the shots of Henry are all handheld using a ramekin filled with treats just off camera (a few inches behind the mirror) to get Henry to focus where I wanted.

Anyone have a preference between the color vs. b&w shot? I'd love to hear it!

© 2011 BZ Training - All Rights Reserved

Friday, August 19, 2011

One of THOSE Days


Dog Blog Post #420: Frantic Friday - and the boys weren't helping. The Daily Shoot assignment?

Make a photograph that emphasizes the horizon today and post it.

With no horizons in sight, I brought out some paper bags and figured I'd create a "wall" and have them jump over it.



You can see how well that idea worked for me...

One of those Days

One of those Days

One of those Days



But as it wasn't really a great horizon, I went the picture at the top of the post, with the one below being the alternate...


Henry was clearly unimpressed that both were of Zachary, and let me know in his own cheeky way...

Not Cheeky



Is it tomorrow, yet???

© 2011 BZ Training - All Rights Reserved